This time, unlike the Lusitania disaster three years earlier, it was the ocean liner that sank the U-boat.
On 12 May 1918, while en route to France with US troops on board, Olympic (1911) sighted a surfaced U-boat approximately 500 meters (1,600 feet) ahead.
As Olympic’s gunners opened fire, the massive former White Star liner turned to ram U-103, which immediately crash-dived and turned to run a parallel course. Seconds later, Olympic struck U-103 just aft of the conning tower. The ship’s port propeller quickly sliced through the submarine’s pressure hull.
U-103’s crew blew their doomed vessel’s ballast tanks and then scuttled and abandoned the submarine. The incident marked the only known time in World War I when a merchant vessel sank an enemy warship.
Watch the video above to learn more about this unique incident and to see views of the U-103 wreck.
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